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COMM218 Williams

Find scholarly sources for your research paper, regarding an aspect of culture and interpersonal communication.

What does expertise look like to you?

Your instructor expects you to learn from and use "scholarly sources" as you build your literature review and presentation. Before you look for the sources, consider the experts authoring them.


Think about what expertise looks like in your field. How does one get it? What are the typical characteristics of scholars? Expertise might come from lived experience, formal education, working in the discipline, or networking and notoriety.

It is up to you to define what what expertise looks like as it relates to your topic and your discipline. Then, apply that expertise to sources. For your assignment, I would argue that learning from a working professional podcasting about business communication in their native culture is just as scholarly - if not more so - than an article in a business journal written by a researcher observing the culture from the outside.

This expansive definition of expertise means it is important for you to consider who is authoring your sources.

This also mean you have a greater expanse of scholarly sources from which to choose. :-)

Expertise and scholarly sources

Scholarly sources

Your options for scholarly sources to consult expand when you consider what expertise looks like. Sources don't just have to be articles. A scholarly source can be anything created by a someone with expertise in your field of study, intended for other professionals in that field, and published in a venue that professionals in the field use. These sources can be podcasts, videos, and even blog posts. (And of course, articles and books.)

Traditional scholarly articles

Three of your sources must be scholarly articles, also called peer-reviewed articles. These are considered more traditional sources.

The purpose of peer-reviewed articles inform other scholars and students in higher education of new research and information from specialized fields. The process of peer review tries to ensure that each published article is unique, accurate, credible, and objective. Peer-reviewed articles can be published in various venues - print journals, online journals, and academic and research organizations’ websites.

Evaluate your sources

Evaluating information is especially important when completing projects and assignments in college (and at work!) because you will be evaluated on the quality of sources you use. The CRAP Test is a helpful tool to use when deciding if a source is "good." CRAP stands for Currency, Reliability, Authority and Purpose.

When you evaluate a source, consider these four concepts by asking yourself a few questions about each.


  • When was the item originally written or created?
  • How recently has the item been updated?
  • Is the information current enough for your topic?


  • How important is it for you that this information is accurate?
  • Are there Works Cited or References, informal citations, or links to outside sources? Are sources included for data, quotations, and images?
  • Was the item reviewed by experts or people with relevant experience?
  • Does this information have any characteristics of misinformation, disinformation, or fake news?
  • Does the information seem accurate based on your existing knowledge of the subject?


  • Who is the creator or author? What does it mean if you cannot identify the creator or author?
  • What are their credentials? Can you find any information about the author's background, education, and/or experience?
  • Who is the publisher, sponsor, or hosting website? Are they reputable? What is the publisher's interest (if any) in sharing this information? What is on their "About Us" page?

Purpose / Point of View

  • Does the information help you answer your questions, learn widely about your topic, and / or think about your topic in new ways?
  • Is the information fact or opinion?
  • Can you identify bias in the article? Does the information amplify certain viewpoints or experiences? Does the information omit or misconstrue certain viewpoints or experiences?
  • Is this information meant to educate you, persuade you, sell you something, and / or appeal to your emotions or values? If so, are these intentions clearly stated?
  • Who is the intended audience for this information? How might the audience impact what is shared and how (e.g., does this resource require in-depth knowledge to understand)? Is this information intended for you and your information needs?

CRAP Test adapted from Beestrum, M., & Orenic, K. (2008). The CRAP test. Available from

CRAP Test worksheets

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